Photo: Amy Dykema

A-Dub / W123

When I first heard that Robots <3, The Pony Shop, and Beverly Bike-VeePak were putting on the Midwest Regional Cyclocross Championships, it was a no-brainer that I was going to race so I signed up soon after registration opened. Unfortunately I hadn't been on a bike all week prior to race day but still came out to battle with the fastest ladies anyway. The freshly laid blanket of snow really made for a fun race! I had a great start considering my back row position and the singletrack allowed me to ride with several gals who are normally faster than I. All was great on lap one until I lost traction on a patch of frozen terrain in a corner - down I went and off came my chain. As I fumbled to replace the chain while wearing my lobster gloves (did I mention that it was FRIGID?) I was passed by every single gal who was behind me. That was a real bummer and a bit of a confidence buster. The run-ups were super challenging too - by the time our race came around, the right side and former race line of the New Balance Run-Up of Doom was iced over and I nearly lost my footing and fell backwards down the hill so I chose to run up the left in the deeper snow, which may have been even more difficult for someone with short legs as myself. The downhill descents had also become iced over for our race so I utilized a significant amount of self-talk and prayer in able to ride it. Whew! Later I ended up falling in the woods after some loyeur (a lurker-voyeur, Bonebell ™) decided to come out of hiding alongside the course and it totally caught me off guard, as if the abominable snowman decided to make himself known. My chain came off again and I lost more time. Even though I was only running around 22 front and 24 rear on my clinchers, I think my tire pressure was still too high for these conditions, possibly causing the instability. Maybe finally making the switch to tubulars is what I need to run super low tire pressure. Although conditions resembled Hoth and I desperately could have used a tauntaun to hide inside, I am always surprised how quickly I forget my body temp issues after the whistle blows and I'm focusing on my race line. While some folks were plagued by Ol' Man Winter I successfully kept the cold at bay by employing multiple warmers in my shoes, and sticking one toe warmer in the roof of each of my gloves was an effective strategy. Now that my freeze-thaw cycle is complete and I reflect upon the race, I am struck by the totally pro-level event that Nikki, Chris, Lou and crews executed with racer perks and course features of epic proportions that will not soon be forgotten. Never mind that my legs look like they received the Nancy Kerrigan treatment from the icy falls - that's part of the fun. Now I just need to figure out something clever to do with my fancy fabric race number. Any ideas?

Photo: Amy Dykema

Ol’ Dirty Blickster / W123

The day before the Midwest Regional Championships, Chicago got about five inches of snow. With the women’s race in the afternoon I figured the course would be relatively packed down for our start, but smaller fields meant only one thin line had been carved out. A wheel turned an inch in the wrong direction meant losing all momentum. There was almost no opportunity to pass, aside from waiting for someone to make a mistake.

Which meant the start was hugely important. I got the last spot on the second row, thankfully an end spot but unfortunately not behind a wheel I could trust. The gun went and I was caught behind someone who missed a pedal, only making up enough ground to be 7th wheel entering the course. I just kept pushing, just kept focusing on the wheels in front of me. I knew I was a better bike handler in these conditions than most of the train of riders I was leading, but I lacked the power. One mistake and they would be able to ride away for good.

It wasn’t until the 4th lap that the mistakes and mishaps came. An imperfect corner here and there, not being able to clip in quickly before the descent, course tape in the wheel, frozen shifting on the pavement. With all that, I slid back to 13th with 11th and 12th in sight, but we were finished a lap early. Only the top 10 (half the field, the half getting payouts) finished all five laps. It was a disappointing end to the race, but I’ll save my cloth #1 MWRCXC bib number forever.

Bilbo Dirtbaggins / Masters 35+

Greg wanted to type this report but couldn’t because his fingers are still frozen. The End.

  1. It‘s quiet in here! Why not leave a response?